Cold Weather Survival
(Adapted from the U.S. Army Survival Manual)
One of the most difficult survival situations is a cold weather
scenario. Every time you venture into the cold, you are pitting
yourself against the elements. With a little knowledge of the
environment, proper plans, and appropriate equipment, you can
overcome the elements. As you remove one or more of these factors,
survival becomes increasingly difficult. Remember, winter weather
is highly variable. Prepare yourself to adapt to blizzard conditions
even during sunny and clear weather.
Cold is a far greater threat to survival than it appears.
It decreases your ability to think and weakens your will to do
anything except to get warm. Cold is an insidious enemy; as it
numbs the mind and body, it subdues the will to survive.
COLD REGIONS AND LOCATIONS
Cold regions include arctic and subarctic areas and areas
immediately adjoining them. You can classify about 48 percent
of the northern hemispheres total landmass as a cold region
due to the influence and extent of air temperatures. Ocean currents
affect cold weather and cause large areas normally included in
the temperate zone to fall within the cold regions during winter
periods. Elevation also has a marked effect on defining cold
Within the cold weather regions, you may face two types of
cold weather environments; wet or dry. Knowing in which environment
your area of operations falls will affect planning and execution
of a cold weather operation.
Wet Cold Weather Environments
Wet cold weather conditions exist when the average temperature
in a 24-hour period is -10 degrees C or above. Characteristics
of this condition are freezing during the colder night hours
and thawing during the day. Even though the temperatures are
warmer during this condition, the terrain is usually very sloppy
due to slush and mud. You must concentrate on protecting yourself
from the wet ground and from freezing rain or wet snow.
Steve's Notes: In my own experience, it is often
harder to stay warm when the temperature is near freezing than
when it is well below that. This is because it's easy to get
wet when it is near freezing - dry cold snow tends to fall off
your clothing, unlike wet snow.
Dry Cold Weather Environments
Dry cold weather conditions exist when the average temperature
in a 24-hour period remains below -10 degrees C. Even though
the temperatures in this condition are much lower than normal,
you do not have to contend with the freezing and thawing. In
these conditions, you need more layers of inner clothing to protect
you from temperatures as low as -60 degrees C. Extremely hazardous
conditions exist when wind and low temperature combine.
Wind chill increases the hazards in cold regions. Wind chill
is the effect of moving air on exposed flesh. For instance, with
a 27.8-kph (15-knot) wind and a temperature of -10 degrees C,
the equivalent wind chill temperature is -23 degrees C. Figure
15-1 gives the wind chill factors for various temperatures and
wind speeds (bottom of the page).
Remember, even when there is no wind, you will create the
equivalent wind by skiing and running.
Steve's Notes: wind chill is an effect that only
takes place when you are in the wind, so get out of it
if you are cold. Also, the standard chart above measures the
effect of wind on exposed skin. If you are properly dressed,
the evaporative effect isn't there, so the apparent temperature
isn't reduced as much by the wind.
The rest of the Cold Weather Survival pages:
Basic Principles Of
Cold Weather Survival
Cold Weather Survival Hygiene
Cold Weather Medical Problems
Cold Weather Survival Shelters
Arctic Survival Foods
Fire Starting In Cold Weather
Other Cold Weather Survival
Cold Weather Survival - Water
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